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‘Beauty and the Beast’ axed in Malaysia over ‘gay moment’

Josh Gad’s character stirs up controversy

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(Screenshot via YouTube.)

Disney has postponed “Beauty and the Beast” for release indefinitely in Malaysia, Deadline reports.

Malaysia’s Censorship Board had approved the film for release but had censored the live action remake’s “gay moment,” a scene where LeFou (Josh Gad)’s sexuality is briefly referenced.

“We have approved [the movie], but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment. It is only one short scene, but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie,” board chairman Abdul Halim said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The film was given a PG-13 rating but its release, which was scheduled for Thursday, was postponed for an “internal review.”

Theater chain Golden Screen Cinemas’ website says the film “has been postponed by Disney until further notice.”

Disney has not yet commented.

“Beauty and the Beast” has stirred up controversy since it was announced LeFou would be Disney’s first gay character. A Russia lawmaker urged for the film to be banned because of its gay content.

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Galleries

John Waters introduces the world to his ‘roommates’ 

Baltimore Museum of Art showcases filmmaker’s eclectic collection in new exhibit

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John Waters shows off his impressive art collection in a new BMA exhibit.

As open as he is about his childhood and his movies and the causes he supports, writer and filmmaker John Waters remains guarded about his personal life.

From Waters’ books, interviews and speaking engagements, fans know that he’s gay and who his longtime friends are. They know he has three residences — in Baltimore, New York, and San Francisco — and that he spends his summers in Provincetown. They know where he plans to be buried, and with whom. But Waters reveals little about his most intimate relationships.

“I have to talk about my movies. I have to give interviews to promote what I’m doing,” he once said. “But no one really knows my personal life. And if you don’t have a personal life, I feel bad for you.”

So it was a bit surprising this fall to hear Waters talk about the “roommates” he lives with, as if he’s a college kid in the freshman dorm, or he’s renting out rooms to cope with inflation.

During a press briefing about a new exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Waters volunteered that he has roommates in each of his three residences. In many cases, he said, he’s had these roommates for years. And they’re not members of his biological family; he chose to live with them.

But for those hungry for morsels about Waters’ private affairs, these aren’t exactly romantic roommates. The museum event was a preview for “Coming Attractions: The John Waters Collection,” an exhibition of 83 works of contemporary art from Waters’ personal collection, that runs until April 16, 2023. And ‘roommates,’ Waters explained at the briefing and in a “go mobile’ narration that accompanies the show, is the term he uses to refer to the works of art at his different homes. 

“My roommates — that’s what I’ve always called my art collection,” he said at the media event. 

“I call art my roommates because I live with them,” he explains in the taped narration. “I look at them every day…We live in a commune.”

 Waters’ notion of art works as roommates is not new. He wrote about it in a chapter of his 2010 book, “Role Models,” in which he describes the art in his homes as roommates, having traits that he likes and seeks out for all of his homes. He said he prefers the companionship of art-roommates to live ones. 

“No sirree, no real-life people sharing my bathroom or reading my newspapers before me!” he vowed. “Instead, I live with artists. Mike Kelley is one of my roommates.”

Visitors to Waters’ homes, including guests at his annual Christmas party in Baltimore, have been lucky enough to see what he’s talking about. The BMA exhibit is the first time he’s shared his companions on such a large scale.

Part of the fun of the exhibit for him, Waters said during a walk-through of the show, has been seeing his roommates from his three different residences, in the same space for the first time, in some cases side-by-side.

“They’ve never met each other before,” he said. “It was like [the curators] were introducing different artists that should have met a long time ago.” 

Though he’s perhaps best known for films such as “Hairspray” and “Pink Flamingos,” bestsellers such as “Role Models” and “Carsick,” and nicknames such as “The Pope of Trash” and “The Prince of Puke,” Waters, 76, is also a visual artist and noted art collector. 

He was the subject of a retrospective entitled “John Waters: Indecent Exposure” at the BMA and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, in 2018 and 2019. He has two works on view in the inaugural show at the Rubell Museum that recently opened in Washington, D.C., “Beverly Hills John” and “Shoulda!” 

The 83 works on view in “Coming Attractions” were culled from a larger group of about 375 works that Waters, a Baltimore native and BMA trustee, has agreed to leave to the museum when he dies.

Waters’ gift to the BMA includes 288 works by 125 artists other than himself, in a variety of art forms. Waters also donated 87 prints, sculptures, mixed-media and video pieces that he created. His gift will make the BMA the greatest single repository of his visual artwork and will enable it to provide, in perpetuity, a comprehensive view of his vision and approach to making and collecting art.

When Waters’ gift was announced in 2020, directors promised the museum would have a preview of what’s to come while he was still alive, and this is it. All of the works in the show are on loan from Waters and will go back to him when the show is over.

In return for his gift, the museum board said it would name restrooms and a rotunda after him. That wasn’t a putdown. Known for his raunchy humor and offbeat way of thinking, Waters specifically asked to have his name on the restrooms, the first at the BMA that are “all gender.”

Christened last fall with a “first pee” by trans artist and activist Elizabeth Coffey, The John Waters Restrooms are right next to The Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, where “Coming Attractions” opened on Nov. 20. The museum has also agreed to display prominently five works from the collection, including one by Waters, at all times.

“Coming Attractions” is one of two Waters-related museum exhibits opening over the next year, along with “Pope of Trash,” a career retrospective at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles in 2023. Dates for the retrospective have not been announced. 

Unlike “Indecent Exposure” three years ago, “Coming Attractions” doesn’t include works by Waters. Instead, it provides an insider’s look at his tastes in contemporary art, and how he lives with art, by focusing on works by others that he has collected and displayed at his homes in Baltimore, New York, and San Francisco.

The guest curators are photographer Catherine Opie and multi-media artist Jack Pierson, both of whom have been friends with Waters for years and are represented in his collection. Both identify as queer, as do many of the artists represented in the exhibit. The show is organized by Leila Grothe, the museum’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art.

Among the featured works are paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints by Diane Arbus; Nan Goldin; Mike Kelley; Cindy Sherman; Cy Twombly; Andy Warhol; Christopher Wool, Gary Simmons and others.

The museum refers to the exhibit as “a cutting-edge articulation of American individualism, particularly as it relates to queer identity and freedom of expression.” 

“All of John has been a go-to for me, as a young queer,” said Opie, who has a portrait of Waters in the show. The works “represent a type of contemporary art that the museum actually just doesn’t really have,” Grothe said. 

Waters’ collection is a reflection of his personality and imagination, Opie and Pierson said in a joint statement.

“Our hope is to share with audiences another aspect of John’s creative vision by offering a glimpse into what he values: artists who are unafraid to take risks, who do not compromise, and who create their art on the margins.” 

The roommate reference could have been a one-liner, but Waters takes the idea and runs with it, building on what he wrote in his Roommates chapter in “Role Models.”

“They delighted me or made me angry or made me laugh or I thought did something in a new way,” he said of his companions. “They just challenged me and I wanted to live with them because art’s your roommates. You live with them forever.”

In talking about his ‘roommates,’ Waters makes it seem as if they are sentient beings who have minds, feelings and personalities of their own, and who can interact with each other, perhaps when the museum is closed.

He paints a picture of his roommates being the art world equivalent of the robotic “hosts” in HBO’s “Westworld,” or the exhibits from “Night at the Museum” and its sequels, movies in which works of art come to life.

Waters talks about his roommates hanging out together, knowing they’re in the home of the Cone Collection with its priceless paintings by Henri Matisse and other masters. He thinks about how they’re adjusting to their temporary home. He muses about them developing relationships they couldn’t have in the different residences and becoming friends. He imagines his roommates plotting with each other. He fantasizes about them sneaking out of the gallery they’re in and exploring other parts of the museum.

Asked at a donors’ event how he thinks his roommates are getting along in their new setting, Waters didn’t miss a beat: “I think they’re so happy to meet each other,” he said. “And they all want to gang up and scare The Blue Nude.”

It’s not that much of a stretch to think in those terms, since many of the works in Waters’ collection are images either of his friends (the late Cookie Mueller), or by his friends (Vincent Peranio), or both (Susan Lowe’s drawing of Mink Stole.)

The curators are going along with it, too, talking about ‘introducing’ different works so they can be “in conversation’ with each other.

“John delights in the fact that these works, all pulled from different homes, are meeting each other for the first time,” Grothe said at the press preview, pointing to a wall with works from three different residences.

“How great does this wall look with Richard Tuttle on the left, the sculpture by Vincent Fecteau in the center, and Gary Simmons on the right?” she asked. “There’s a lot to say about each artwork, but for now we should just appreciate the budding of a new friendship between these pieces.”

The curators positioned certain works to show how they “begin to speak to one another in different ways,” Opie said.  “Throughout the exhibition, you’ll notice these little groupings…that we ended up putting together so that they could have a conversation.” 

Was anyone left out of the party?

Pierson said he regrets that there isn’t an “Edith Massey moment” in the show, in honor of the character who played Edith the Egg Lady in “Pink Flamingos,” so her voice could be part of the mix. “I’m sure I could have found one,” he said. 

“The only piece that would remind me of her [is one] that I didn’t buy but I wish I did, by George Stoll,” Waters said. “He made fake Easter eggs, but the collector hides them in their house so no one ever sees them. And you forget them, yourself, that you have them. And then you’re going through an old drawer – Oh! There’s a piece of art I bought!”

During the donors’ event, Grothe asked Waters what his homes feel like with much of the art out on loan. She said people at the museum are worried about him, living without his roommates. Waters said his homes look and feel empty.

“It looks like I’m moving, everywhere, because they didn’t take everything,” he said. “So there are big holes in the wall, and dirt.”

Waters said he keeps thinking Louise Lawler should come over, a reference to the artist who’s made a career of studying and documenting art installations. “It’s a great installation for her to do.”

Waters went even further in the taped narration, likening his residences to scenes of a crime, still in disarray.

“They have come to all my homes and taken half the stuff off the walls,” he laments. “So now I live in abandoned squats that look like art robberies happened in my house.”  

At the same time, he admits, his roommates look good in their museum setting.

“You can see them so much better,” he said. “I don’t have good lighting. They cleaned them, too. They were dirty, some of them.” 

Even though the show just opened, Waters is already thinking about what happens after it comes down.  

“It’s weird,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to put them back where they went after seeing them in here together.”

Waters said he thought about putting his roommates back differently, taking cues from the exhibit and preserving some of the new ‘relationships’ formed at the museum. He said he‘s grateful to the curators for coming up with “a whole new way” to show them off.

“Maybe I’m going to never be able to hang it back the way it was [and] have to put it back the way you did it,” he told the curators at one point.

But ultimately, he said, he decided against shifting everything around. 

“Oh god, that would really be complicated,” he said. “I’d have to move all the furniture and change everything. So they will go back, lonely.”

Waters said he knows that won’t be as much fun for his roommates, not hanging with their new friends. But he notes this isn’t the last time they’ll see each other, since they’ll be returning to the museum eventually.

After all, he said, “they know that way later, after I’m dead, they’ll get together again.”

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

Catch upcoming drag shows, an ugly sweater party and Pamala Stanley live

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From left, Detox appears with other 'RuPaul's Drag Race' alums at a Christmas Misfits show, an Ugly Sweater Party is planned at As You Are and Pamala Stanley is slated to perform at Freddie's. (Blade file photos by Michael Key and Daniel Truitt)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in the DMV that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


Mocktail Night

Wednesday, December 7
6-10 p.m.
Pitchers DC
2317 18th Street, N.W.
First Base Room
Facebook

Pitchers is hosting its first alcohol-free night for those celebrating sobriety with festive mocktails. No alcohol will be served, so go to Pitchers for a stress-free social event with other sober LGBTQ friends and allies.


“Flee” Movie Screening

Thursday, December 8
Doors 5:30 p.m./Opening remarks 6:30 p.m.
Landmark’s E Street Cinema
555 11th Street, N.W.
Free/registration required
Facebook | Register

The European Parliament Liaison Office and Capital Pride present a screening of European Parliament LUX Award 2022 finalist, “Flee.”

“Flee” portrays the true story of a man who shares his hidden past of fleeing his home country of Afghanistan to Denmark.


Christmas Misfits: A Drag Holiday Extravaganza!

Thursday, December 8
6 p.m.
Capital One Hall
7750 Capital One Tower Road
McLean, Va.
$69.50-$252.50
Facebook | Tickets

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni Violet Chachki, Gottmik, Detox and Latrice Royale perform at a holiday show on Thursday.


Vernonza Extravaganza Lipsync Battle

Thursday, December 8
8 p.m.
Dupont Italian Kitchen
1637 17th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Monica Vernonza and Lady London host a lip sync battle at Dupont Italian Kitchen on Thursday.


StartOut Baltimore-Washington Launch Reception

Friday, December 9
6 p.m.
Selina Union Market
411 New York Avenue, N.E.
Facebook | Eventbrite

StartOut Baltimore-Washington holds a launch party with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment and networking at the rooftop at Selina Union Market on Friday. The new organization looks to increase the number, diversity and impact of LGBTQ entrepreneurs.


Pretty Girl Rock Drag Brunch

Saturday, December 10
10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Hard Rock Cafe
999 E Street, N.W.
$15+
Facebook | Tickets

Evon Dior Michelle hosts a drag brunch with Druex Sidora and Katrina Colby at Hard Rock Cafe on Saturday.


Ugly Sweater Party

Saturday, December 10
9 p.m.
As You Are DC
500 8th Street, S.E.
Facebook

Wear your ugliest sweater and party all night with DJ L Stackz at As You Are on Saturday.


UNCUT: Jingle Balls with DJ Cindel

Saturday, December 10
10 p.m.
Bliss Nightclub
2122 24th Place, N.E.
$65+
Facebook

Kinetic presents the 2nd annual UNCUT Jingle Balls event at Bliss Nightclub on Saturday complete with a clothes check and play zones.


It’s Britney, Brunch!

Sunday, December 11
Doors 11 a.m./show 12 p.m.
Red Bear Brewing Co.
209 M Street, N.E.
$25
Facebook

Desiree Dik leads the Britney Spears-themed drag brunch featuring Elecktra G, Silverware Sidora, Millie Meringue and Tip Boy Pup Indigo at Red Bear Brewing Company on Sunday.


Pamala Stanley LIVE at Freddie’s

Sunday, December 11
7-9:30 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$15
Facebook

Pamala Stanley returns to Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington for a holiday show on Sunday.


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Photos

PHOTOS: Safe Space

New LGBTQ+ party held at Black Cat

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A scene from the 'Safe Space' party at the Black Cat on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Safe Space 2: A Safer Space party was held at the Black Cat on Saturday, Dec. 3.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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